All Blacks: Steve Tew's threat 'doomed to fail'

A leading English rugby writer says Steve Tew's threat to pull the All Blacks out of international rugby after the next World Cup if New Zealand doesn't get an improved revenue share from any future global season is doomed to failure due to the financial power of England.

Chris Jones told Martin Devlin on Radio Sport that while the All Blacks might rule the roost on-the-field, their paymasters at New Zealand Rugby are wasting their time over the next few weeks as they attempt to manoeuvre World Rugby and other national unions into creating a streamlined global season which benefits us.

"You're just not going to get the sort of slice of the action I think Steve Tew is looking for," Jones of the NZR chief executive's bid to force England and others to pay more to play the All Blacks.

"Sure, it would be fantastic if you could because you've done it on the basis of world rankings and therefore you should get a certain amount every time you turn up.

If that happened, your finances would be transformed.

"I can see why New Zealand Rugby is thinking: 'well hey, we are the best. It should be reflected in the fee we get'. And it might be that (some unions) move a bit on the fee. That's possible. But trying to tag it onto a whole change to the global rugby season when you have massive TV deals in place in England and France, that just ain't going to happen."

Jones said most observers in the northern hemisphere believe NZR's threat to pull the All Blacks from international rugby after 2019 is hollow and doesn't stand up to logic.

"Nobody is suggesting that if the All Blacks just didn't exist, rugby would be fantastic. Of course it wouldn't because you need somebody who is setting the standards," agreed Jones. "If you knock the All Blacks off, who have you got next? Second is England who under-perform wildly compared to their playing numbers, you have the inconsistent Australians and goodness knows what you will get from the South Africans.

"So you need somebody who is incredibly good to drive the standard and that's what you have with the All Blacks. That's why the game will never do without them. But as a bargaining stance, as a first-up, it's right up Mt Everest. Steve Tew is at Mt Everest and (the Home Unions) are basically at the bottom of the Atlantic, and getting us together... I'm not quite sure how they are going to that."

Jones felt NZR should be satisfied with its current arrangements in the northern hemisphere where they have gained improved financial deals from England and others and should accept the economic forces are weighed against them - particularly when it comes to England's RFU.

"You (NZR already) get a million pounds every time you turn up at Twickenham and cross the threshold of the front door. Deals are in place already....you've been getting quite a bit of the slice of the pie every time you come to Twickenham" he said.

"What's madness is you're not playing England this autumn because everybody else wants a slice of the action. What is happening is you're not getting as big a retainer for turning up at other venues because the other Home Unions can't touch England for the amount of money they can generate. There's an immense amount of jealousy about the power that England wields. (But) if you are going to have a global season you have to take England with you and at the moment (RFU boss) Ian Ritchie isn't moving.

"The turnover per match at Twickenham is around 12 million pounds. So the four games they're going to play over autumn will bring in around 40m pounds. And they're not going to give up half of that; they're not going to pay you guys six million pounds to turn up. They're prepared to give you about a million which is not a bad slice of the action but they're not going to dig into those massive products which are generated by TV rights and hospitality."

Jones said England's holds the whip hand in the rugby boardroom power struggle because it can sell out Twickenham no matter who the opposition is.

"That has what it has come down to (for other unions) - can you get somebody as bit as an England, can you get somebody as big as a New Zealand and then earn the money through the gate? Well, England can do it with anybody turning up. It doesn't matter if Fiji or Argentina turn up as well as Australia and South Africa - they will still sell out and they will make 12 million pounds a game."

Jones warned that if NZR carries through with its post-2019 threat, the consequences will be dire.

"What will happen is that special area in departures at Auckland Airport will be crammed with rugby players heading off to Japan and Europe to make millions for themselves, (and) not for the All Blacks," he predicted. "Because if they are unable to play in Europe on a regular basis, they will go and play there as sole agents.

"This is an economy driven on rewards on offer to both individuals and teams.

"I'm sure that everybody who is currently in the All Blacks team is thinking 'If Dan Carter can line his pockets, what's in it for me when it's the right time?' And the right time could be a ludicrous decision to pull the All Blacks out of international rugby."

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